With the modern stress we all face today how can we combat this problem. One way is to do yoga.
Many experts and yoga practitioners have exalted the benefits of yoga.
So how can yoga help you deal with stress. Let’s take a look at exactly what we know about stress.
What is Stress?
In a challenging situation the human brain responds to stress by activating the nervous system and specific hormones.
The hypothalamus located in the center of the brain signals the adrenal glands to produce more of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, and release them into the bloodstream.
Heart rate, blood pressure, and metabolism increase, blood vessels open wider to allow more blood flow into large muscles groups.
Making our muscles tense and putting the brain on high alert.
Pupils dilate to improve vision.
The liver releases a dose of stored glucose to increase the body’s energy.
Sweat is produced to cool the body.
This chain reaction of physical effects happens to prepare the human being to react quickly and effectively, enabling them to handle the pressure of the moment.
Stress is necessary for the human to remain self-sufficient; to survive.
In the jungle, ancient man conjured stress hormones when needed to fight a bear or a tiger, or to survive extreme weather conditions.
With a concrete defensive action stress hormones in the blood get used up entailing reduced stress effects and symptoms of anxiety.
In modern life some stress situations sharpen us; clear the cobwebs from our thinking, and stimulate faculties to attain our true potential.
Each stage of human evolution happened by adapting in order to survive extreme conditions and stresses in our environment.
At this time the body is prepared to act with increased strength and speed while the mind is sharp and focused.
Stress and a human response to stress is necessary.
However, what we need now is to learn to adapt to our new world, to handle the increase in milder but consistent stress in a better way and to learn to release before it affects us in a negative manner.
When we fail to counter a stress situation these chemicals and hormones remain unreleased in the body and bloodstream for a long period.
This leads to a long list of symptoms such as tense muscles, unfocused anxiety, dizziness and rapid heartbeat, and compels the mind-body to in an almost constant alarm state in preparation to fight or run away known as the fight or flight response.
Accumulated stress can increase the risk of both acute and chronic psychosomatic illnesses, and cause everything from headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, frequent cold and fatigue, to diseases such as hypertension, asthma, diabetes, heart ailments and even cancer.
Many medical doctors and psychologists go as far as to say that 70 90 % of visits by adults to primary care physicians are for stress related problems.
How Yoga Affects Stress:
To recover from the exhaustion associated with chronic stress, we need to do things that turn off the adrenal hormones and promote secretion of anabolic hormones.
Certain yoga poses, such as inversions help to stimulate glands in the brain.
Yoga smooth, deep, symmetrical breathing, twists, stretches and balancing postures help to enhance the body’s natural functions.
Keeping the spine, house of the nervous system supple, enhancing flow of fluids in the spine and stimulating glands and circulation of blood and lymph throughout the rest of the body.
Muscles are lengthened and toxins are released. Pranayama (breath exercises) and poses such as cat where we roll along the spine with breath can help to flush and clear the lung tissue.
Stressed out individuals tend to carry a great deal of physical tension in their body’s.
Yoga helps to unlock and release these tensions before they can accumulate over time and become chronic physical and psychological conditions.
As we release physical blockages, toxins, and limitations from the body we also do so in mind, spirit, and emotions.
The benefits of yoga postures (asana), breathing (pranayama), and meditation (dhyana) include increased body awareness.
Release of muscular tension and increased coordination between mind-and body.
Which leads to better management of stress and cultivates an overall feeling of well-being
During the resting poses in yoga such as child pose, abdominal tension is released.
This allows internal organs to unwind promoting deep breathing and enhancing digestive and reproductive functions.
This deep rest affords the central nervous system much-needed time in para-sympathetic mode (relaxed calm state, free of the flight or flight stress response) in order to recover and rejuvenate.
Creating focus through a series of specific bodily poses also helps us to truly take our mind off of work and other stresses.
In normal conditions the body follows a natural breath pattern that is slow and fairly regulated.
Under stress when the body shows symptoms such as tightening of muscles, distractions, anxiety, hyperactivity and angry reactions.
Breathing becomes quick and shallow.
One tends to hold one’s breath frequently. With restricted breathing inflow of oxygen is diminished.
Lungs are unable to exhale the stale airs and residual toxins build up inside the body.
Stiff muscles restrict the circulation of blood that so even less oxygen comes in and fewer toxins are removed.
This in turn affects the healthy regeneration of cells and can accelerate aging and disease.
Medical studies show that the oxygen-starved cells are the major contributing factors in cancer, immunity deficiency, heart disease and strokes.
Breathing also affects our state of mind and consequently makes our thinking either confused or clear.
Lengthening and deepening breath in yoga creates a more balanced state of being.
A change in breath pattern creates a change in the metabolic process, emotions, endorphins, internal chemical reactions, and the release of specific hormones.
Mind affects body; body affects mind.
Mind Body Connection:
The sensitivity that comes through a yoga practice helps to develop a level of skill in cultivating, observing and choosing one’s posture, breath, emotions, and diet more wisely.
As we practice we learn to listen with our body’s.
Whenever we experience an emotion, our body’s register this emotion and mirror it.
The next time you get angry, stressed, or afraid, stop and notice exactly what is happening in your own body in that moment.
Which muscles got tense?
How has your breath been affected?
How did your posture change?
Is your heart beating faster?
What affects you and why?
Are you able to notice it as it happens?
Over time yoga helps us to let go of unwanted emotional and physical patterns.
Yoga practice is great for providing recovery and can also help you deal with stressful circumstances without having such a strong negative reaction.
The mindfulness mind-body awareness cultivated with yoga practice allows us to realize emotions as they arise.
Sensing what is the cause of the emotion and how that emotion affects the body/mind.
Awareness comes from the inside out and from the outside in are necessary.
They are one and the same.
Through a regular yoga practice we develop a balanced state on a consistent basis and this translates into our lives off the mat.
We become better equipped to handle everything that comes our way in life.
To handle life with more grace, ease, and presence, from a more objective point of view.
I would love to hear your thoughts about this post or this site in general.
I will answer all the comments on my website personally so drop me a line below if you have any Yoga questions or comments.
I’m happy to help any way that I can.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietitian before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.